CSR in the European Oil Sector: A Mapping of Company Perceptions

FNI Report 9/2006. Lysaker, FNI, 2006, 22 p.

Does the increasing rhetorical attention to concepts such as ‘Corporate Social Responsibility’ (CSR) and related weight given to CSR instruments lead to corresponding changes in the behaviour of companies, within the policy fields of environmental protection, gender equality, and the countering of bribery? The EU-funded RARE (‘Rhetoric and Realities – Analysing Corporate Social Responsibility in Europe’) project has set out to explore this question in the three societal sectors of oil, fisheries and banking, relying on a combination of extensive surveys within the three sectors and a subsequent more limited number of in-depth case studies. This report sums up and discusses the main results of the oil sector survey, encompassing nine European oil companies. With regard to main findings, there is no consensus on how the oil companies’ societal responsibilities are to be understood or described. A range of terms is applied, with the terms ‘Corporate Responsibility’ and ‘Corporate Social Responsibility’ as the most popular ones. The companies do not perceive that CSR primarily pertains to efforts that go beyond formal legal compliance, but rather give prime emphasis to CSR as a tool to achieve compliance with mandatory social and environmental legislation. It is clear that climate change has established itself as the most important societal issue for European oil companies, while countering bribery also has fairly high strategic importance. Regarding instruments adhered to, the number is quite impressive, with six companies adhering to 15 or more. The most popular instruments are the Global Compact, OECD Guidelines, Responsible Care, ISO 14001, and the Global Reporting Initiative. As to the contribution of CSR instruments to performance, the most important ones seem to be the ‘company-specific’ instruments and to a much lesser degree the ‘standardized’ instruments.



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